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Irate over incentive payout to developer

I was disappointed – in fact, outraged is the word to describe my initial reaction – to read that council had approved $4.6 million in incentives for a 18-storey condo building downtown (Tribune, May 1).
The amendment to reduce this to $1.8 million, proposed by councillors Jim Furfaro and Bob Bell, was justified. It would have covered the developer’s special costs, including spending to remediate its brownfield site. The remaining $2.8 million seems unjustified except on the specious basis of the cost of layered parking.
The incentive of several million dollars for the initial Tricar condo building downtown was warranted be-cause it was a first. That development was an experiment. Its success meant more people living close to downtown, buying at downtown stores and dining at downtown restaurants.
All taxpayers in the city benefit from this, because downtown property values rise, the tax base increases and tax revenues grow.
From all reports, the first condo building has turned out to be a great success. Sales have gone very well.
We now have concrete evidence that people want to live downtown. Tricar knows this better than anyone and needs no more subsidy.
If it could not have made a profit on the basis of its proposed prices, without a subsidy, it could have increased its prices.
If it had decided to walk away, another developer might have been able to make the project work. As well, there is the large Fusion homes residential development coming across the river. This means the second Tricar development is less needed.
Did staff with the approval of council hire a real estate consultant to assess the profitability of the building? I think not.
The parking garage, allowing residents to use their cars without having to deal with ice and snow in the winter, adds value. An expenditure of a few tens of thousands for an analysis of the value of this facility and the project as a whole was well warranted.
Did council, including the mayor, approve the $2.8 million in incentives simply on the basis of the warnings of the developer and groundless worries about reputation?
If most of council made its decision only after considering an independent evaluation of the development, I hope they will tell us. If it did not, I hope they will tell us why.
Marion Steele
Guelph

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